I put it off. I put it off. I put it off.
“What did you put off, Ray?”
No, I filed my taxes on time. I paid the balance on my credit card. I went to church. I can’t call my mom or dad, they’re in heaven with Babe laughing at me. I’ve checked off all the biggies except for one. If you’re standing, brace yourself against the nearest wall. If you’re sitting, grasp hold of the sides of your chair. If you’re reading this while you’re driving on I-35 during rush hour in Dallas, Austin, or San Antonio let me know before you go any further, I want to advise the state police of a multi-car pileup.
“What is it? It can’t be that bad, or can it?”
It is. I have to go the U.S. Post Office. The dreaded black hole of the American living experience.
There, I admitted it. My pulse, normally low because I frequently work out so I’ll be fit in times of emergency, like having to go to the Post Office, has risen from 51 to 125. I feel as if my heart is engaged in aerobic exercise.
Why am I going to the Post Office? I have 700 reasons. One of my 401K accounts started this robust year at $2000. That’s not much. I forgot about the darn thing. It was one of Babe’s accounts. It’s now down to $700. I thought the economy was robust. According to the 401K manager, the previous manager made a big investment affecting many accounts betting that sardines were the next beef. I can see it now, I go to MacDonalds and say, “I want a big mac, supersize the sardines, por favor. I’ll have a seaweed salad on the side.” I’m closing the account, maybe after taxes, I’ll get $300. I plan to donate it to Southwest Airlines for a round trip ticket to Vegas. Problem is, I have to send my request via certified mail.
I won’t waste your time telling you the Post Office’s self-service machine wasn’t working. I won’t waste your time telling you there were six stations but only one postal employee working. I won’t waste your time telling you I’m at the back of the line and standing on the other side of the double glass doors. Lo siento, (Spanish for I’m sorry), I wasted your time. Thanks for letting me vent. Better than going postal.
So you get an accurate idea of what occurred when I reached the head of the line and step to the counter, I’m writing the actual conversation between the postal employee and me in Italics. I write what I was actually thinking but didn’t express for fear of being arrested or sent to the back of the line in bold.
Excuse me sir, I did not call you to the counter.
Are you for real?
May I stay here because I’m next.
No. I’m going on break and another postal service agent will be out shortly.
Service agent? Don’t get me started with oxymorons.
Back you go. You don’t have to go back to the rear of the line. Good thing, the line is out of the building. The postal service is on your side. He grabs his cash box and goes behind a solid steel, bulletproof door.
They’re on my side? What does that mean? All I want is five minutes or less. Hey is there anyone alive back there behind the bulletproof door? Should I turn and start a chant. “We Want Service. We want Service.” A voice whispers, are you nuts?
Five minutes later, a woman comes out. No nonsense, I can tell by the four teardrop tats under her eye. She glares at me. I smile back. She doesn’t smile. I hear the magic words, “Next.”
It’s me. It’s me. I feel so good. I turn and look at the poor fools waiting and wishing they were me. I saunter up to the counter. “I need to send this letter certified mail.”
She picks it up. Holds it to the ceiling light. I want to shout, I’m TSA approved. does that count for something.
She says, “Does this contain any explosives, liquids, bombs, hate literature, WikiLeaks, support for global warming, anti-gun literature, or a Russian flag?”
It’s less than a sixteenth of an inch thin. The heaviest thing on it is your fingerprints.
It’s only a one-page letter, ma’am.
She says, “Wrong answer. One more wrong answer and you go to the back of the line”.
Images of kindergarten rush through my mind. Why didn’t I learn to behave in school. It’s karma or the reincarnation of Miss Borchers.
Her hands are on her hips, old west style. I don’t see holsters, but one can never tell. She says, “I don’t like to repeat questions. Now give me the answer.”
Think Ray think. You’re good under pressure. You can do this. No I don’t have to take a leak. That wasn’t it. It’s warm in here. I wish it were cooler. I’m going to take a wild guess. No.
“Close call, sir. I was ready to ship your butt out to the street.”
I’ve got to go online and check out the USPS applications.
She weighs my envelope, “How much do I owe you?”
“You don’t owe me anything. And, I don’t appreciate the pickup line.”
She holds my letter with both hands, a death grip. Here stare bores a hole in my temporal lobe. She says, “Where is your completed card to send this certified mail? Do you have one?”
“Wrong answer. The cards are in the lobby. Please fill one out and go to the rear of the line.”
I take my letter. Women in line are tearing up. I see an old man popping angina pills. I’m thinking I don’t need the money. Then I hear her voice.”
“You’re on camera. Your photo will be posted in every post office in the country as a hostile patron. We’re watching you.”